The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) urges Americans to go green on Earth Day and throughout the year. Commuting on public transportation can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by 4,800 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
An individual switching to public transit can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds; that’s more than 4,800 pounds a year. This is more than the combined carbon emissions reduction that comes from using energy-efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, weatherizing one’s home, and replacing an older refrigerator with a high efficient refrigerator.
“In total, Americans using public transportation reduce our nation’s carbon footprint by 37 million metric tons annually,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “Imagine how much, much more carbon savings there would be if there was greater investment in public transportation from local, state, and federal governments.”
Public transportation agencies across the country are joining in the celebration of Earth Day on April 22 with a variety of green initiatives and activities aimed at raising awareness and improving the environment. Some of these initiatives are listed below, along with examples of how public transportation systems are implementing green technologies.
Listed below are some of the special announcements and environmentally friendly programs that were timed to coincide with Earth Day/Earth Week celebrations.
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston, MA) The MBTA and the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company will unveil two new energy efficient locomotives that will provide dramatic fuel savings and reduce emissions.
- Metro (Cincinnati, OH) will dedicate its first six hybrid buses and have a hybrid bus parade on Tuesday, April 21. The hybrid buses will go into service on Earth Day.
- Seattle, WA On April 20, the seven public transit systems of the Seattle area launched ORCA, a regional Smart Card that can be used by riders of all participating systems.
- New York MTA (New York, NY) The newest hybrid bus will be fitted with eco- fact advertisements and put on display adjacent to Grand Central Terminal on April 25 along with the BioBus, an advanced biological lab on wheels that informs the public about cells collected from the surrounding environment. MTA staff will be on hand to talk about the MTA's role in environmental sustainability.
- Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (Toledo, OH) The entire bus fleet will run on B20 biodiesel on Earth Day.
As of 2007, hybrid buses, natural gas buses, and biodiesel fueled vehicles were common among public transit systems and made up nearly 30 percent of all transit buses.
- Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica, CA) 100 percent of the Big Blue Bus fleet operates on alternative fuels and bio-diesel.
- Blue Water Area Transportation Commission (Port Huron, MI) BWATC has been producing its own compressed natural gas since 1996 and 63 of its 72 buses run on compressed natural gas (CNG).
- Capital Area Transportation Authority (Lansing, MI) The CATA fleet uses ultra low sulfur fuel, which reduces emissions by 20 percent over diesel fuel. New buses are ordered with particulate exhaust filters that lower emissions even further.
- Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Austin, TX) Capital Metro completed the conversion of its entire bus fleet to Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel three years before federal requirements took effect.
- Chicago Transit Authority (Chicago, IL) CTA has twenty 40-foot hybrid buses and nearly 150 60-foot articulated buses in service.
- Greater Cleveland RTA (Cleveland, OH) Its entire fleet of buses operate on environmentally-friendly fuels – CNG and ultra low sulfur diesel fuel.
- Intercity Transit (Olympia, WA) Intercity Transit has operated its bus fleet on green, clean biodiesel fuel since 2002.
- Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston, TX) Metro has an active fleet of over 150 diesel-hybrid buses. As part of its bus-replacement program, Metro will be purchasing 100 hybrid buses this year.
- Metropolitan Transit System (San Diego, CA) MTS’s entire fleet is now more than 75 percent clean CNG and MTS continues to run one of the first-ever CNG-electric hybrid power plants.
- New York MTA (New York, NY) New York MTA has 1,067 hybrid buses in its fleet.
- Rabbittransit (York, PA) Rabbittransit just recently added ten new hybrid paratransit vehicles. The rest of the paratransit and fixed route buses use biodiesel.
- Valley Metro RPTA (Mesa, AZ) Most of the Valley Metro buses run on CNG or liquefied natural gas. Smaller buses and paratransit vehicles use bio-diesel and propane.
Other green activities taken by public transit systems that make a difference:
- Bay Area Rapid Transportation (San Francisco, CA) BART is testing energy-saving, light-emitting diode (LED) lights. LED lights last longer and save up to 50 percent in energy costs.
- Greater Bridgeport Transit ( Bridgeport, CT) GBT has just installed the first of a series of solar-powered bus stops. The lighting systems are powered by a battery which builds up electricity throughout the day through a solar cell mounted on top of it.
- Metrolink (Los Angeles, CA) Metrolink is conducting tests of experimental emissions control technology and so far, the tests have resulted in significant reductions in emissions from the diesel engines in their locomotives.
- Valley Metro RPTA (Mesa, AZ) RPTA has a new wireless inspection system for 200 buses that saves 158,000 sheets of paper annually. Additionally, 80 percent of the bus wash water is reclaimed.
Some public transportation systems are sponsoring free rides, give-aways, and drawings to thank riders:
- Greater Bridgeport Transit (Bridgeport, CT) GBT is encouraging all City of Bridgeport employees to ride for free, passing out t-shirts and having a live radio broadcast from a bus station.
- Capital District Transportation Authority (Albany, NY) CDTA has partnered with local markets for the distribution of thousands of green eco-friendly market bags. Participating markets will also offer CTA customers special discounts on their purchases during the week. There will be a drawing for 10 trip passes.
- Hampton Roads Transit (Hampton, VA) HRT is providing a hybrid shuttle to transport people to their annual Earth Day event. Shuttle passengers will receive giveaways and a brief overview of HRT services.
- Metropolitan Transit System (San Diego, CA) In honor of Earth Day and the fact that MTS set a record by selling more than 9,200 semester passes to students at the San Diego State University, MTS is offering students free rides to campus.
- Monroe County Transit (Scotrun, PA) The winners of a poster contest among four elementary school students will be announced on Earth Day. The posters of the four grand winners will be incorporated into a bus panel that will be hung on a bus on Earth Day.
- Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (Las Vegas, NV) RTC invited local student artists (grades 6-12) to submit artwork with an Earth Day and sustainability theme. The winning art will be featured on a transit training vehicle that was converted by RTC to utilize a sustainable fuel mixture of recycled vegetable oil and diesel.
- Riverside Transit Agency (Riverside, CA) RTA will have a drawing for those customers who ride on Earth Day. Prizes include 50 free day passes and the grand prize is a donated bike and three months of free rides.
- Triangle Transit (Research Triangle, NC) GoTriangle co-sponsors the SmartCommute Challenge, a program that encourages commuters and college students to try smarter, greener commuting alternatives.
Finally, numerous transit agencies are either sponsors of local Earth Day events or participating in an Earth Day event by offering information about transit and its benefits to the environment. Some additional transit agencies participating in Earth Day events include:
- Capital Area Transportation Authority (Lansing, MI) CATA is participating in several Earth Day events and is also one of the major sponsors of the Michigan State University Environmental Film Festival.
- LYNX (Orlando, FL) LYNX is participating in two upcoming Earth Day events.
- Metropolitan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority (Nashville, TN) Just last week, Nashville MTA put several new 60-foot hybrid buses into service. One of the new hybrid buses will be on display at the local Earth Day event.
- SamTrans and Caltrain (San Mateo County Transit District) The District will host its first Earth Day event at the Redwood City Transit Center and distribute information on its public transit services.